Promising results for Malawi apps

New research into a series of apps developed for primary children in Malawi has found positive results. Based on the country’s National Primary Curriculum, the “Masamu” apps teach core mathematical concepts through sets of activities delivered in the local language. Children work through the activities at their own pace, and can practise as often as they like.

The author conducted a randomised controlled trial in one primary school. A total of 400 children were randomised to one of three groups: an intervention group (using the Masamu apps on ipads); a non‐ Masamu control group (using four different apps freely available from the internet on ipads); and a control group (using the normal pedagogical practice delivered in Malawi primary schools).

Children were tested on mathematical ability and basic skills immediately before and after the intervention period. The intervention period lasted for 8 weeks, and was delivered for 30 minutes each day by classroom teachers at the school, with technical support from VSO (a non-profit development organisation).

Children who received the intervention made significantly greater gains in mathematical ability over the 8-week intervention period than both groups of controls. Furthermore, the greater learning gains shown by the intervention group transferred to paper and pencil format. The intervention was also successful with low achievers. 78% of low achievers who received the intervention improved their maths ability to a level typical for their year group, compared to 17% of children who were taught as normal.

Source: Unlocking Talent: Evaluation of a Tablet-based Masamu Intervention in a Malawian Primary School (2014), University of Nottingham/onebillion.

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